What is PPC?

On a search engine’s results page there are two kinds of listings, organic and sponsored.  Sponsored or paid listings are (somewhat) conspicuously identified at the top and/or right-hand side of the engine’s results pages.  Organic listings occur naturally, while sponsored or paid listings are bid on by advertisers.  Advertisers decide how much they are willing to pay for these ads, and they pay for the ads only when a visitor clicks on the ad …hence the name Pay Per Click (PPC).

Why should you be using PPC?

Well, because as our headline said… it’s one of the most significant and cost-effective advertising innovations, ever.  If you haven’t at least experimented with Pay Per Click, you may literally be handing low-cost, high-quality leads to your competitors.

If your company is a B2C, or takes customer orders online, you probably already are using PPC, big-time.  But B2B companies also have many reasons to at least experiment with PPC and determine what it can do for them.  Here are some of those reasons…

1. Pay for result

One of the most compelling features of PPC – perhaps even more to CEOs than to marketers! – is the notion of paying only for leads that actually come to your web site.  This is “narrowcasting” on steroids!  Your ad is seen by only those with an already-expressed interest in your product or service (as evidenced by the keyword match);  and you pay for only the subset of them who actually clicked on your ad.

1. Traceability…aka, clear & objective ROI

Because PPC is all-electronic, everything that happens is explicitly measurable.  The kind of measurement that you’d love to do with your offline programs – but probably don’t because of the difficulty and the extent of “hand-waving” involved – is completely trivial with PPC, and requires no hand-waving whatsoever.  A click-through to your landing page comes about only in response to a specific keyword/phrase and ad, and all such events are captured and available for inspection and analysis.

3. Incredibly granular control and flexibility

With PPC, you can control…your chosen keywords/phrases

  • your maximum bid price for those keywords (and consequently your spot in the rank-ordered PPC listings)
  • your ad copy
  • the offer your ad presents to the searcher
  • the contents of your landing page

You can vary all those levers systematically, experimenting until you achieve your ROI target across your entire campaign.  Given that degree of control, the only way to lose your shirt with PPC advertising is to float an ad at a relatively high bid price and then ignore it …in which case you really have only yourself to blame.  But with judicious attention to the controls provided, you’ll generally be able to make PPC pay its way for you quite nicely.

4. Setup ease

This can be a double-edged sword, since it may tend to encourage that just-noted “set-it-&-forget-it” mentality.  But the exciting fact is that you can open an account with a search engine, select and price keywords, post an ad, and literally see visitors starting to hit your site …all within as little as 10 minutes!

Should we do it ourselves or outsource?

You can certainly set up and manage a PPC program yourself;  there are some tricks to it, but nothing totally inscrutable.

However, doing all of this in-house takes a major commitment of staff time …not to mention some fairly specialized knowledge.  Many companies find that it simply makes good business sense to outsource this task and let their own people focus on branding, messaging, sales support and other core marketing activities.  You simply pay a monthly fee to a service provider, who sets up and runs your PPC campaign pretty much the way you would …if you had the time and their level of expertise.  If you take this route, you’ll surely want to choose a PPC services provider that…

  • has PPC consultants who gained experience in the more demanding B2C market
  • is a Qualified Company of at least one of the major search engines
  • can address the full range of Web-strategy issues that PPC touches, including website design and search engine optimization

Either way, by utilizing Pay Per Click you’ll be leveraging one of the very best deals in marketing …and almost certainly improving your company’s marketing ROI.